Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Small Moments

When I introduce our Narrative Writing unit, I try to get my class to think about possible writing topics, like we all do.  I have tried to come up with some different ways to get my kids thinking about "small moments" from their lives that they want to choose as a topic for a story.

I show them a Lego house  that I made, and tell them that each day is like that completed house, but it is really made up of little pieces, just like the Lego house.  I  take some of it apart and say, "This piece was when I woke up this morning because the cat jumped on me. This piece was when I ate breakfast and spilled the juice all over the floor.  This piece was when I got dressed and chose to wear my lucky shirt..."   I explain how during the day, there are lots of things that happen that would make great stories.

Another day, to review "small moments,"  I bring in cookies- because you cannot go wrong with cookies.  Each child gets a cookie.  You guessed it- I tell them that everybody's life (or day) is like the whole cookie, but it is made up of special little moments which are like those special chocolate chips.  I have the children each  take out one special chocolate chip from their cookie, and while they do that, I tell them to think about a special moment in their life that might make a great story to share.  When I bake the cookies, I put in one mini Hershey kiss, so it is like a "big chip" that they take out. Almost everyone takes out that chip. There are always a few who dig out one of the other ones! It's fun to watch.  As they eat the cookie, they are supposed to be thinking of some of their own special small moments. We share some of the moments after we eat the cookies.

(These were actually SO good- I just bought Tops brand pre-made cookie dough, and the were great! Go figure!)

Then, we make an anchor chart to share which "small moment" each child might choose to write about for this story.  
Another fun visual for "small moments" is to show the children a Seurat painting.  He style of painting was pointillism (or 'dots' as we say...).  He is one of the artists we study in the class. "Seurat, Seurat, he painted with a dot,"  is how we remember him.  I show them some of his paintings from far away, then explain that his paintings are made of many, many small dots. Each little dot is very important for the whole picture, just like each small moment is very important for our whole day or life.

I also like to use The Important Book  by Margaret Wise Brown as a mini-lesson for "small moments."
I love to use this book for so many things. I also use it when we talk about how each child is special when they write about what is important about themselves.  For this mini-lesson, I use it to show that although many things happen in each person's life, there are some things that stand out and are really important to each person.  They  don't have to be big, huge, things, but important things to you. If it is important to you, it makes a great story to share.   I share some things with them that I remember about being little, like when my friend would come over to play and would walk to the store to buy Big Buddy bubblegum, and we would take forever trying to decide which flavor to buy.  I always loved orange-mint the best.Then we would walk home happily chewing our gum.  Or when I would go to my grandparent's house and we would cross-stitch, play Flinch, or play Bingo for little prizes. I loved when my grandmother made waffles for dinner right on the table with the waffle maker. When I went to bed I remember that I loved hearing the big trucks go by outside the bedroom window. 
Another great book to use to help the children get the idea of a "small moment" is Zoom by Istvan Banyai.  If you haven't seen the book, it is a picture story that keeps zooming out into a bigger and bigger view of a picture.  Here is a sample to give you an idea.  The kids love it. It is a great conversation starter for details and small moments.
We also read Shortcut by Donald Crews, because I always like this story for a "small moment" mentor text.  It is perfect for my kids' level and attention span. 
I made an Author Prezi and put together links for some of my favorite authors that we study during Writer's Workshop.  It has pictures of the authors, some links to interviews with the authors, and some videos of their work.  It is just handy to have it all in one place when I want to quickly show the kids a picture.  At the top are links to lots of wonderful author interviews and lists of good mentor texts. Click on the picture below if you would like to have it!

This is a special "small moment"- in a different sort of way.  Since I have been working on my narrative writing unit, looking up some good mentor texts for small moments,  it made me think of some even more important "small moments" in teaching.

 I was talking with one of my sweet, sweet former students who now has two precious little girls of her own. She was one of those sweeties who never demanded any attention at all, but because of that was the type I loved making sure got the attention she really deserved. I think I am extra sensitive to the quite ones who could easily be overlooked because they are just doing the right thing and don't "need" constant reminders or redirection. I want them to know that I appreciate them, and they do deserve to be noticed for that.

She and I were talking the other day on facebook, and she said that what she remembered about Kindergarten was one particular day when I was talking to the class about being good listeners, and she happened to notice the word "boo" on the wall.  She said that she looked at it, and realized at that moment that she could spell "boot" by adding a "t" to the end of "boo!"  That was over 25 years ago.

I told her that I hoped and prayed that I had been excited and happy for her wonderful learning moment- and hadn't said, "We aren't talking about that right now, we are talking about being good listeners!"  She assured me that I was happy for her, and luckily she has that moment as a really happy memory.  (Thank GOODNESS!  Otherwise this post might have been labeled "sad moments!)

That story, once again, made me realize that children remember MOMENTS.  Not necessarily the moments we plan and prepare for them to remember, or spend money on, or hype up-  but just moments.  We never know which ones. (Cause I remember some "moments" from my school career that weren't so great!) I am always praying that I remember that and give each child happy, wonderful moments to remember- with excitement, joy, soft, kind answers, and lots of love.

Have a great night!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Ghost's Dinner

We had so much fun with The Ghost's Dinner by Jacques Duquennoy today that I had to share it with you. I have had it forever. If you don't have it, hopefully your library will.  
It is a story about a ghost who invites his friends over for dinner.  Everything he serves makes his ghost guests look like that food or drink.  Here are some pictures to show you!

It's great for predicting and problem solving.  "What color will the ghosts turn after they drink spinach juice?"  "Which ghosts do you think had seconds of the pumpkin soup?" 
 They love the salad and cheese ghosts!
 We had so much fun that I decided to make our own Ghost's Dinner class book.  After we read the story in the morning, I told the class that after lunch we would each draw a ghost who has eaten something for our book.  They had all day to think of their clever food.  Here are some ghosts we came up with!

A camouflage cupcake
 I LOVE this one!
 a banana

 an orange
And... this one... When he shared, he said, "My ghosts ate a disco ball and horns. So this one is all horny."   And the beautiful part about Kindergarten is that nobody even blinked an eye. (Except maybe me... I about died.)
Have a great night. Stay away from those horns!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pirate Literacy Gold & LOTS of FREEBIES!

We had so much fun reading Shiver Me Letters that I knew we needed something fun to go with it.  Last weekend, Jeff and I went searching for "gold."  We found it here.  You have to have "elementary teacher eyes" to see gold in some places.
My gold mine! 
My sweet Jeff carrying the future gold to the car. :)
Oh, I almost forgot. You must get a pizza for dinner, so that you can use the box for spray painting.  Right?  Yes.   
I wrote letters on both sides of the smaller stones. gold.
The bigger gold nuggets were for the sight words.
Ta da!  New center!  The children love playing with this at free choice time.  They don't realize how many times I hear them reading words and making little sentences. They just think it is fun.  ;)  I still have a few children working on letter recognition and sounds, so this will be something different for us to use for that, too. 
I made a simple recording sheet so that I can use this as a small group literacy center.  The children find and write ten words from the pirate's treasure. Then, they each read their ten words to a friend.  If you would like a copy of my recording sheet, click on the picture below. 
OR if you are feeling clever, I found this idea from The Fickle Pickle. It would be fun to have the kids dig for the gold words!

I found some fun freebies to use with my gold at TPT, too! 
Amanda Plum has a cute Shiver Me Letters  ABC Activity FREE at her TPT store.
Shiver Me Letters Pirate ABC ActivityShiver Me Letters Pirate ABC Activity
Melissa Freshwater has these cute Shiver Me Letters Alphabet Cards.

Shiver Me Letters Alphabet CardsShiver Me Letters Alphabet CardsShiver Me Letters Alphabet Cards
Here are some of my favorite pirate books to use  for my pirate unit.  It is fun to have these books around the treasure center for the children to pick up, read, and study the pictures. The illustrations are wonderful.
(I never read this book, but my daughter did a summer reading program last year in Niagara Falls at all the libraries in the area, and said that this was one of the children's favorites!)

If you want to make your pirate theme to be extra delicious, here are some great pirate food ideas! Some are really simple and would be a great little snack.  I actually found a Pirate Party Food Linky Party site at Top Party Ideas.   I KNOW!  :)

Cool Ideas BlogSpot had some fun pirate activities- AND this idea that shows that any time a pirate flag is added to a fun food- a pirate snack is born!  So cute.

Here are some of the games they suggested. I thought the Shark Attack game would be fun using sight words written on papers as the safe land!

Walk the plank
  • Set up a plank or balancing beam for the pirates to walk along. Use pillows or gym mats to break the fall. Award prizes for the pirates who make it across.
Shark attack
  • Place 7 pieces of newspaper in the backyard to represent dry land. The guests walk around the newspaper until “shark attack” is called, at which point the pirates run to the safety of the newspaper island. As each round progresses the newspaper is removed and then torn into smaller pieces until only one pirate remains. In the final rounds, pirates can hold onto each other and are still ‘in', as long at least one foot is on the newspaper, and no other parts are touching the ground.
Pin the patch on the pirate
  • Create a pirate face or use a “Pirates of the Caribbean” poster to pin on the missing patch.
Here are some more fabulous piarate freebies from TPT!

Pirate Adventure FreebiePirate Adventure FreebiePirate Adventure Freebie
AND she shared her Pirate I Have, Who Has Sightword Game!  Thank you, Melissa! 
Pirate Theme I have...Who has...GamePirate Theme I have...Who has...GamePirate Theme I have...Who has...Game

JK Curriculum Connection has a free Pirate Game.  The cards are blank so you can use them any way you want.  I like this because I am going to make lots of specific cards for my kids who need extra help with certain numbers and letters for RTI. They can match the letter with the "gold."
Pirate Game Arrrrgh!Pirate Game Arrrrgh!Pirate Game Arrrrgh!
Look at Fredia Shumway's AWESOME Pirate Themed Wordwall Words! Oh the fun I can have with these! This will be perfect for matching the word on the treasure chest to the word on the gold.
 Pirate Themed Word WallPirate Themed Word WallPirate Themed Word WallPirate Themed Word Wall

Laura Sosa also shared her cute Pirate First Grade Sight Words.
Pirate Sight Words - First Grade

Emily Ames shared a fun Short Vowel Pirate Game.
Reading-PIRATE Short Vowel Board Game Freebie (blends phonics)
Pirate-Themed Interactive Book: Positional Words and PhrasesPirate-Themed Interactive Book: Positional Words and PhrasesPirate-Themed Interactive Book: Positional Words and PhrasesPirate-Themed Interactive Book: Positional Words and Phrases
Look at these cute Pirate Punctuation Marks from Mrs. Seymour's Superstars!  It's always fun to review punctuation marks a different way.
FREE Pirate Punctuation PostersFREE Pirate Punctuation PostersFREE Pirate Punctuation PostersFREE Pirate Punctuation Posters
Ready for some math freebies?  Here you go!

My friend Susanna just shared this fabulous song with me.  So- it looks like I am going to turn my "extra gold" into a math center.  I still have some children who need work recognizing numbers 10-20 (a couple even 5-10!) and everyone can use some fun addition and subtraction problem gold nuggets, right? 
While I was finding that one, I found this silly  Jack Hartman song.  They will love this one, too...
Or... how about talking like a pirate!
Sid the Science song has a fun little measuring Pirate song.

How about these wonderful Pirate Story Math Problems from The Very Busy Kindergarten. Some are money themed, some are not.  These would be fun with a pirate unit!
Pirate Math Story ProblemsPirate Math Story ProblemsPirate Math Story Problems
A Special Kind of Class has these Pirate Math Work Station Activities with gold to cut out and use as counters.  You could also use the spray painted rock "gold" as counters!
Pirate Math Work Stations - Aligned to Common Core - FreebiePirate Math Work Stations - Aligned to Common Core - FreebiePirate Math Work Stations - Aligned to Common Core - FreebiePirate Math Work Stations - Aligned to Common Core - Freebie
Jennifer Oyler shared her Pirate Themed Number Posters , numbers 1-30. You could fill up ten frames with gold nuggets, too!
Number Posters 1-30 Pirate Theme (with names and ten frames)Number Posters 1-30 Pirate Theme (with names and ten frames)Number Posters 1-30 Pirate Theme (with names and ten frames)
Anna Watson made a cute activity called Pirate Math Using Addends 0-10.  My kids would love the number cards to practice number recognition or as a matching game, too.
Pirate Maths - Using Addends 0 - 10Pirate Maths - Using Addends 0 - 10Pirate Maths - Using Addends 0 - 10
Look at Jessica Miller's cute Parrot Roll and Cover Game.  These are always great for a math center.  might have the kids count gold nuggets to match the number for something different first.  Then, they could play the Roll and Cover Game.
Parrot Roll & Cover Freebie
Schoolhouse Talk shared a fun Pirate Roll and Color Pack. My class will love these!
Pirate-Themed Roll and Color PagesPirate-Themed Roll and Color PagesPirate-Themed Roll and Color PagesPirate-Themed Roll and Color Pages
I love this Pirate Addition Math Workstation from Jessica at Littlest Scholars.
Pirate Addition Math Work StationPirate Addition Math Work StationPirate Addition Math Work Station
Lisa Richling has a great Pirate Number Sense Activity-up to 50.
Shiver Me Timbers: Number Sense Up To 50Shiver Me Timbers: Number Sense Up To 50Shiver Me Timbers: Number Sense Up To 50Shiver Me Timbers: Number Sense Up To 50

 I hope you found some teaching gold to use.   Have a wonderful week!

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